The PlayStation 4 has a wealth of free-to-play games; in fact, many industry analysts are insisting free-to-play gaming is the future. It's rare to see a massively multiplayer game, or MMO, feature a monthly subscription in this day and age yet Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is proudly offering one.
As one would expect, gamers used to free online games are bemoaning the fact that they will have to pay monthly for Final Fantasy XIV, not being able to see the forest for the trees. Despite what many think, having a online subscription for Final Fantasy XIV is a good thing.
We can sum up why in three reasons.
All Content Available to All Players
Free-to-play games have to make their money somewhere and for the most part that's gating off content unless you pay for it. Rarely, free-to-play games will let players get paid content for free but you're looking at hundreds of hours of commitment to get just one paid item for free. With most free-to-play games, it costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars just to get all available items.
For an MMO, free-to-play developers may gate off playable characters, quests, rewards or handicap your grouping or money-earning abilities unless you pony up the cash to unlock those abilities. Just take one look at Star Wars: The Old Republic on the PC for the worst example of this. DC Universe Online is another fine example of a free-to-play MMO that gates off a large majority of its content unless you pony up the dough.
Final Fantasy XIV doesn't do that. For a flat $12.99 a month, you'll have access to the entire game and all future, non expansion pack content. You'll never come across the game asking you for money to unlock a new zone, you'll never be handicapped because you didn't pay as much as your fellow player. Every player is on equal footing for an extremely low cost.
In fact, there are no real money transactions in the game at all outside of the monthly subscription.
It Pays For Future Content
While free-to-play games do update, they often update extremely slowly and their updates are never really one of great substance. A new character here, some minor changes there and more often than not, you'll need to pay to access the new stuff.
With Final Fantasy XIV, the updates are substantial thanks to the revenue gained from monthly fees. Over on the PlayStation Blog, Community Project Manager Hergen Thaens ran down a list of changes that came with the first two content patches:
- New Main Scenario Quests, continuing your story
- Two new raids
- New Dungeons
- New Dungeon Hard Modes
- New primals to fight: Leviathan and Good King Moggle-Mog XII
- A new difficulty for primal fights, Extreme Mode
- Player versus Player Combat
- Treasure Hunts
- New factions (Beast Tribes) with Daily Quests
- Tons upon tons of new quests of all kinds
- New customization options for your characters
- Tons of optimizations and new features for the game
Final Fantasy XIV is updated often and the updates are huge, thanks in part to the monthly subscription fee. You don't get content updates like this when dealing with a free-to-play title.
It Creates a Better Player Base
This one will be subjective, but personally, I find monthly subscriptions help to really eliminate the trolls and negativity that runs rampant on the rest of the Internet and other free-to-play titles.
With a free-to-play game, any child or immature adult can simply make an account whose only purpose is to spew negativity or hateful comments. With a monthly subscription, the only players who remain with the game are, for the most part, those who want to be there, that love the game and want to help other players succeed.
I've seen many a game's player base completely crumble when going free-to-play. My personal example is Rift, a game that had a small but great player base when the game had a monthly subscription. When the game changed models and went free-to-play, the player base took a nosedive due to everyone and anyone joining the game. The maturity level dropped immensely and many older players I know quit playing altogether.
Monthly subscriptions make sure the only players that are playing are those who love the game and are generally old enough to afford a subscription, and that's a good thing. Your opinion may vary, but personal experience leads me to prefer the subscription model as it generally keeps the children out and creates a more relaxed, adult atmosphere.
Is That All?
While we listed three of the major reasons why a subscription fee is beneficial, there are few more than just those three. It helps pay for server upkeep, guaranteeing the game can remain available for years to come, and it helps reduce the number of cheaters due to being able to pay dedicated teams to police the game.
Hopefully I've been able to change a few minds and show that monthly fees just isn't Square Enix being greedy, but that a monthly fee can actually be beneficial.
Now, charging for the game and then a monthly fee on top of it? That's an archaic business model that needs to go, but that's another article for another time.
(Yes, I know I Guild Wars 2 runs counter to almost this entire article but Guild Wars 2 isn't the standard, it's a very, very rare example in the MMO space. I figure one person will comment with the whole "Guild Wars 2 provides all this and has no monthly fee!" and well, Guild Wars 2 is unique. It's also not on the PS4.)
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/9/2014